When the Oswego Independence Parade steps off at 1 p.m. tomorrow, July 7 from the corner of Liberty and West Mohawk streets, it will be the 50th time the Oswego tradition has brought a sense of patriotism and celebration to the city streets.
While Oswego had hosted many parades on different occasions, it was during the early 1960s that friends and fellow Jaycee members Bill Greene and Bill Gregway decided that Oswego needed a bigger celebration for the nation’s birthday than just a fireworks display.
Thus, the tradition of the Oswego Independence Day Parade was born. The original parade had a budget of approximately $600 and started by the Oswego Hospital, traveling East to Fort Ontario.
Through the years, the Jaycees and Jayncees evolved the parade to an increased route and a celebration that included a drum corps show, originally held at Fort Ontario, then later moved to Wilbur Field at Leighton Elementary School.
When the local Jaycees group disbanded, several local service organizations stepped in to keep the tradition alive, and eventually the City of Oswego asked the local chamber of commerce to take over organizing the event.
For over 30 years, local businessman Jim Bushey and a group of volunteers spent countless hours designing, constructing and decorating floats. This year, Bushey plans to reconstruct a float he still has parts of in storage.
The Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce Independence Celebration Committee decided the most fitting way to celebrate the 50th installment of the parade was to invite the people who worked to bring the parade together over these many decades to be honored as the grand marshalls.
All members of the Jaycees, Jayncees, civic groups, chamber members and all volunteers are welcome to participate. Grand marshalls can choose to walk the parade route or ride on trolleys provided by Allen Chase Enterprises.
Those seeking to participate are asked to gather at the corner of Liberty and W. Mohawk streets by the Oswego High School by 12:30 p.m. Sunday, July 7.
Following the parade, NBT Bank will be sponsoring the annual Independence Celebration Concert. The Oswego High School Jazz Band will take the stage at Breitbeck Park at 7 p.m., followed by the Oswego City Band, which will play from 8:30 p.m. through the fireworks display, which begins at 9:45 p.m. over the Oswego Harbor. There will be food vendors and Good Times of Oswego will have several bounce houses available in the park during the concert.